June 26, 2015

Archbishop encourages young adults to read pope’s encyclical, live simply

Andrew Costello, a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, smiles during a conversation with Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin on June 17. They chatted shortly before the archbishop gave a talk to about 150 young adults during a Theology on Tap get-together in Indianapolis. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Andrew Costello, a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, smiles during a conversation with Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin on June 17. They chatted shortly before the archbishop gave a talk to about 150 young adults during a Theology on Tap get-together in Indianapolis. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

On the night before Pope Francis issued his encyclical calling for people to take better care of the environment, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin offered young adults in the archdiocese an approach to life and happiness that connects with the pope’s goal.

Encouraging the pursuit of “a simple life,” Archbishop Tobin told a group of young adults, “I always say to myself, ‘Remember what you really need.’

“Over 20 years, I’ve traveled around the world [visiting 71 countries.] It taught me that I didn’t need all the stuff I thought I needed to be happy. I like to ask myself, ‘How much stuff do I need?’ ”

The archbishop shared that advice during a talk with about 150 young adults in a Theology on Tap get-together in Indianapolis on June 17.

Sponsored by the archdiocese’s Young Adult Ministry and held at the Tow Yard Brewing Co., the evening reflected Theology on Tap’s approach to invite young adults to consider aspects of their faith in an informal, relaxed setting.

The archbishop used the opportunity to speak to the group by focusing on his expectations of the pope’s long-awaited encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

Asserting that the encyclical “will have major repercussions in the Catholic Church and, I believe, the world,” the archbishop encouraged the young adults to read the pope’s letter.

His talk also served as a starting point to consider many of the themes that Pope Francis expressed in calling all people to take responsibility for the care of God’s creation.

“Stewardship of creation is more than something we do,” the archbishop told the group. “It’s a response. We’re responding to someone who loved us first. It’s a way of being and understanding our place in the world. It’s integral to all we’re called to do as Catholics: to respond in love to God who loved us first.

“As Pope Francis has said, ‘A Christian who does not safeguard creation, who doesn’t make it flourish, is a Christian who isn’t concerned with God’s work—that work born of God’s love for us.’ ”

The archbishop stressed that the Church’s approach to “care for creation” calls people “to look beyond our own selfish needs,” to focus on all humanity.

“Stewardship of creation is also a call for justice, and this call should have a preference for the poor and the most vulnerable, who are affected the most by this crisis even though they did the least to create the problem and have the fewest resources to adapt.”

He noted how power plants are often located near low-income neighborhoods, and how “air pollution from these plants contributes to health problems, especially in the young and the elderly.

“Around the world, the effects on the poor and vulnerable are even more severe. Catholic Relief Services is helping the most vulnerable people respond to increasing floods, droughts, food and water insecurity, and conflict over declining resources. All these things are making the lives of the world’s poorest people even more precarious.”

Concern for the most vulnerable must flow from the care that God has for all his people, the archbishop noted.

“We are to love one another not only because God commands it, but because it’s just—because God made those other people, and keeps them in being, and loves them.”

God’s example should also guide people in their care for the environment, he said.

“The dominion of men and women over creation must serve the good of all human beings and all creation as well. This is God’s plan. To exploit the created world for selfish gain is really a form of idolatry.”

In the course of his talk, the archbishop suggested that the young adults could make a difference on a global level by supporting Catholic Relief Services in its efforts to help people around the world.

At a personal level, he talked about recycling, using energy-efficient lighting, reducing the use of fossil fuels, embracing a simpler life, and having faith be the foundation of a conscious choice to care for all creation.

“For people of faith, the environmental crisis is more than just a scientific or even a technological problem,” the archbishop said. “It’s a moral problem. It is not a marginal matter, but a fundamental priority that must be addressed now—and not left to our children or grandchildren to resolve.” †

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